Park City face Sky View in 4A state title game on Friday
When Park City’s football team walked out of Rice-Eccles Stadium last Thursday night, smiles and laughter were aplenty. The Miners had just defeated No. 5 Pine View 48-21 in the Utah state playoff semifinals, earning a berth in the 4A championship game the following Friday.
“We all expected this tonight and we all wanted this, thinking it would’ve been a disappointment if we didn’t get to this moment,” senior linebacker Brady Bauamnn said after the game. “Now we are back to a normal week; just have to give it our all and go 1-0 every week. It’s what we’ve done all season long, so we aren’t going to change anything now.”
The game was emotional for the Park City players for a multitude of reasons.
First, the result meant the Miners were going to the state title game, a goal the senior class has been dreaming of since they were little kids patrolling the sidelines and stands of the Park City football games.
“Since we were little kids, his is all we’ve wanted and we’ve worked for since playing for Park City,” senior receiver Mark McCurdy said. “Every day we’ve come to work and get better, and now we have the chance to do something we set out to do when we were younger, and that’s win a state title.”
Second, the Miners were avenging last season’s loss in the semifinals, in which they fell 20-0 to Dixie, ending their surprise to run in the state playoffs. With this year’s win, Park City felt as if it had put last year behind them and could focus on what we was up ahead.
“This is really a dream come true for us, to win out here on this field where our season ended last year, it feels like we can move on from it,” senior linebacker Chase Johansen said. “We’ve worked so hard for this and it’s paying, and we aren’t done yet.”
But most importantly, the victory meant one more week for this “family,” as coach Josh Montzingo commonly refers to his team, to be together. And nothing drove home the fact this team is a true family like Park City’s last two games to reach the championship.
“That’s everything you could ever ask for as a coach when a group of men completely buy into serving and playing for one another,” Montzingo said. “When you play for one another, you can accomplish something greater than yourself. … And that’s something that this group has taken to heart on and off the field.”
In this year’s quarterfinal, the Miners found themselves in a dogfight with No. 9 Snow Canyon before prevailing 14-10. Senior Jack Skidmore, who started at quarterback all season long, missed that game due to a concussion.
Likewise, star running back Dylan Bauer and two-way star McKnight Pederson missed last season’s semifinal game for different reasons; Bauer to suspension and Pederson to injury.
According to the players, the underlying theme that week was about playing for one another, and making sure they got another week. The boys wanted both Bauer and McKnight to understand what it felt like to play under the lights at Rice-Eccles stadium. They also wanted Skidmore to have one more chance to end his career rather than on the sideline.
“A few of us didn’t play last year so playing on this field under the lights, it was surreal and I couldn’t stop smiling,” Bauer said after the game. “Last week, everything we did was to get to this week and then take care of business. We play for one another and wanted everyone to get the chance to experience this.”
The brotherhood got the chance to shine again in the semifinals victory, when injuries forced other players to step up to continue the season.
When Bauer, star two-way lineman Coco Lukrich and backup running back Franklin Paas all went down to injury, Skidmore, Pederson and McCurdy stepped up in the win.
Skidmore accounted for nearly 300 total yards of offense and four touchdowns, while McCurdy and Pederson each had receiving touchdowns and big catches on third down.
“It felt great, and I honestly was just thankful that my guys gave me another week and another chance to play,” Skidmore said. “I wanted a second chance at this game for a year now, and these guys helped me get there. We have guys who can fill every position, you saw it last week when I went down and you saw it this week with the other injuries. It speaks to the resiliency of this team.”
Now with the Miners reaching the state title game, a familiar opponent awaits them. Last season in the 4A quarterfinals, Park City came from behind to stun top-seeded Sky View 15-14. McCurdy caught a touchdown pass while Bauer added 100 yards and a score on the ground.
But with the last season’s victory comes a target on Park City’s back when they face Sky View again on Friday.
“It’s something we’ve talked about all season long, taking each team’s best shot while playing with a target on your back,” Montzingo said. “I don’t know if we want to make it more than what it is. … And it’s just another game to us. We are going to keep swinging the pick and going 1-0 each week.”
Scouting Sky View
Sky View is in the 4A state championship after taking down No. 3 Dixie 49-21 in last week’s semifinals matchup. The Bobcats will enter the game at 12-1 overall and 5-0 in Region 11 — with their lose loss coming to 6A Skyridge in the second week of the season, reeling off an 11-game winning streak.
“They are super well-coached, a very disciplined team that resembles us in a lot of ways,” Montzingo said of the Bobcats. “They gave a great defense, a good offense, and a lot of playmakers on both sides of the ball. We will have to be at our best and be peaking at the right time if we want to win.”
Sky View is led by do-it-all star Mason Falslev, a senior Swiss-army knife who’s committed to the University of Utah for basketball, can line up at wide receiver, running back, quarterback, safety and return man. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound athlete has the potential to take over any game, making him very dangerous and in the front of Park City’s mind.
“The best way to describe him is to say he’s their version of our Mark (McCurdy),” Montzingo said. “He’s an incredible athlete with great size who can hurt you from anywhere on the field. He’ll have our attention and we have to be very sound defensively to contain him, but to make sure we don’t lose sight of all the other players they have.”
Park City plays Sky View for the 4A state football championship at Rice Eccles Stadium at 11 a.m. Friday.
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